VMware 5 and Cisco core config

Posted on 2013-06-03
Last Modified: 2013-06-04

I have three VMware 5 host servers and two cisco 4507 core switches connected via HSRP. Each host server has 8 nics. What would be the best way to wire the nics and setup the ports on the core?  I have vlan10 for the VM's, Vlan20 for iSCSI, and vlan30 for management/vmotion. the main questions i have for this are, should i setup separate port groups for each vlan on the cores? or just create one big one and trunk it for all traffic? also when i'm wiring the nics to the cores can ports on two separate cores in two different port groups connect to the same vSwitch on a host?  I was planning on splitting up the nics between the cores. Will this affect the performance? should i do one full 4 port card to one core and the other to the other switch? I'm just looking for the best setup for performance and redundancy.

Question by:MikeMercer77
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Expert Comment

ID: 39216582
Easiest way is to put the ports your nics will be connect to in trunk mode and set the VLAN id's in VMWare.

As for redundancy and performance it all depends on how many vms and what services you will be running across the ports before you can decide on the best setup. obviously if you connect half of each NIC to separate switches you are going to have better redundancy but you may suffer performance degradation depending on your nic teaming setup.

Author Comment

ID: 39216713
Thanks for the reply. trunking on the core does seem the easiest route. for the NIC setup if i had NICS 0,2,4,&6 going to core1 and 1,3,5,&7 going to core2 could i team say 0,1,2,3,4,&5 to one Vswitch for VM and Storage and 6&8 to another for Management/Vmotion?

 I think my biggest confusion comes on the core side. I am new to the cisco world. With HSRP, if i set it up like this would the nic ports wired to core2 be active and sending traffic? I currently have nortel switches, and they have something called Multi-Link trunking that allows me to use multiple ports across switches and load balance the traffic. I was told that HSRP doesn't support load balancing. If that's the case should i wire nic's 0,1,2,4,5,&6 to core1 and 3 & 7 to core2 for better performance?

Expert Comment

ID: 39217306
HSRP doesn't support load balancing there is a bit of a suggested cludge from cisco but it seems like a lot of effort for not very good load balancing. It involves setting up two HSRP groups on the same interface and manually load balancing.

You may be able to get both nics active by setting up a trunk port between the two switches. Although all of your traffic will only ever be passing through one switch as your default gateway will only be present on one switches virtual MAC address (HSRP active member). So the above will probably create a bottleneck on the interface you use to trunk the two switches together unless you use a fibre port or something. It would be interesting to see some throughput info if you do end up going with a trunk port between them.

Best idea would be to setup your NIC's in failover mode. Manually set the costs on your hsrp so that one switch is being the default gw for VM vlan and the other for iSCSI/Management/VMotion vlan (in normal operation) and set the nic failover order in VMWare accordingly.

What device are you using for iSCSI? as you may be able to get away with tearing down vlan 30 and actually getting better vmotion performance without affecting iSCSI! On the same subject if you have enough ports on your iSCSI box why not connect them direct?

If you have the budget for it then a pair of 3750's wouldnt go amiss instead ;-)
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Author Comment

ID: 39218841
I have a dell equallogic with 15K sas drives for iSCSI. It has two controllers with 4 ports each. One is on stand by so technically there are 4 active ports. I wish i had room in the budget for two 3750's :). Part of me wants to fire up two of my old Nortel 5510's and just dual home them to each core via fiber.

Accepted Solution

NiceCuppaTea earned 500 total points
ID: 39218848
Plug your 4 active ports into the active switch and your four standbys into the standby :-) if performance becomes an issue then take it to the board as a reason to get a fabric switch for iSCSI and some cards or a pair of 3750's

Author Comment

ID: 39219091
Ok will do. thanks for your help! for the servers i guess ill just split 4 ports to each core and do an etherchannel trunk. Im sure it will be more than enough throughput. I know the other core is there for a failover. i just hate waste :)

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